Peter Eisenman

Guardiola House, Santa Maria del Mar, 1986-1988

For his Guardiola House, located on a sloping plot of land above the bay of Cadix, in Santa Maria del Mar, Spain, Peter Eisenman took a basic geometric shape, the cube, moved it around and then superimposed it. The result reminds us of the trace left by breaking down the movement of this mass tumbling down a slope, in the same way as a wave washing over the sand would do. The imprints “recorded” like this express in many ways a paradigmatic figure, that of an L-shape, with a slope of 8°. In his conceptual diagrams, Eisenman rotated the cubes in every direction, shifting, superimposing and creating gaps, which gradually built up the traces of what could be called a break-down more than a deconstruction of the form. The superposition of imprints engendered many possible relationships between solid and void, trace, presence and absence. The three models for the project attest to the absence of the signs that traditionally indicate that a structure is a house. On the contrary, the unbalance, the ambiguity and the complexity of the spaces, which are neither interior nor exterior, reveal a conflict between the functional expectations for the spaces and the autonomy of the form. This perception is further enhanced by the complex way the house has been staggered, the many different points of view, which cause a feeling of disorientation, a fragmented perception of space that does not envelop the individual. Most of the living areas are cantilevered over a void. Opaque walls block the magnificent view of the bay. The windows in the floor disrupt the occupants’ routine activities. The ground doesn’t seem to be placed where it should be, i.e. underfoot; instead it floats, suspended in the air, causing confusion about what is the floor and what is the ceiling. This house illustrates Peter Eisenman’s research on architecture that refers only to its own characteristics and has no meaning other than the process used to generate it.

Nadine Labedade

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